Ben Heisler previews the PGA Tour Honda Classic and picks out all of the best bets from the outright market and the best Props plays
WHAT TO KNOW:
PGA National at Palm Beach Gardens will play host to this week’s Honda Classic, starting a string of four consecutive tournaments all in the state of Florida. While there’s plenty of excitement for the “Florida Swing” to tee off over the next month or so, it also signifies the unofficial start of “Zero Availability Season” when it comes to rental cars and available tee times as both Spring Training baseball and golf tournaments will commandeer the panhandle.
Last year, it was Keith Mitchell winning the Classic, outlasting both Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler, along with a late run round of 63, seven-under par from Ryan Palmer to slide into fourth.
The aforementioned Kopeka returns to action now that the Florida swing has returned to his backyard. Same with Justin Rose and former 2017 Classic champion Rickie Fowler. As for notable names skipping out and avoiding the Spring Training traffic: Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas have all been declared out for this weekend, which is a bit unusual considering all three golfers live in the state of Florida and felt that their time and pocketbooks might be spent better elsewhere. Amongst the three, Thomas has seen the most success at PGA National, winning the event in 2018 and finishing tied for third with Blayne Barber back in 2016.
The course is a Par-70 with PGATOUR.com ranking it fourth in scoring relative to par in 2019, and second the year before.
PICKS: All Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
Tommy Fleetwood (+1100)
I rarely like to play favorites, but PGA National sets up so well for Fleetwood’s style of play that I’ll hop on board, especially at 11/1. Via FantasyLabs, Fleetwood has the best long term adjusted round score amongst competitors at 68.5, which is in essence, his average score with adjustments made to both the difficulty of the course as well as the level of the field. He’s also top-six in green in regulation percentage at 72.4%, meaning he’s reaching the green in two strokes less than par just under 75% of his holes.
Billy Horschel (+2300)
Horschel will be a popular play for this week but he has earned his time in the spotlight after back to back top-10 placings the last few weeks. He’s also had two more Top-10 finishes this season in November at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, as well as the Zozo Championship in November. And let’s not forget that this is a course that’s been kind to Horschel over his career, finishing in the Top-10 twice in the last four years, and in the Top 16 three of the last four!
Gary Woodland (+2300)
Rock Chalk! The former Kansas Jayhawk and Topeka native has never missed a cut at PGA National and finished second to Rickie Fowler in the Honda Classic back in 2017. He’s also been noticeably accurate off the tee lately and coming in fifth amongst all golfers in bogey average.
Daniel Berger (+3500)
Berger’s listed as high as +2900 across some sites, so there’s good value here at +3500 over at DK SportsBook. He’s got two Top-10 finishes so far in 2020: 9th at the Waste Management Open in Phoenix, and 5th at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which ended up being the last two tournaments he’s participated in.
PROPS: Use FANDUEL for Fantasy Picks & Sportsbook Bets
These are a few of the prop bets where I feel there is strong value.
Justin Rose Over/Under 66.5 Total Strokes: OVER
With the course playing at a Par-70, and Rose only playing PGA National once before back in 2015 (he missed the cut), I’m not sure why I’d be so bullish on him finishing more than 3.5 strokes under par on the first day. Only six players last season shot below a 67 on Day One, so there appears to be enormous value on taking the over.
More Birdie or Better: Brooks Koepka or Rickie Fowler (+1.5): FOWLER
Less Total Strokes: Justin Rose (+0.5) or Tommy Fleetwood: FLEETWOOD
The fact that I’m getting a stroke and a half for Fowler feels like the absolute play for two golfers deadlocked across most sites when it comes to projected odds for the Tournament. Fowler also has a far more successful history at PGA National than that of Kopeka, with Fowler winning and finishing second in two of the last four Tournaments.
As for Fleetwood, this feels purely like a good value play with him as the unquestioned favorite entering the tournament, and Rose’s lack of success and experience in this Tournament likely to hinder his performance. Even if he does play above last time, to only have to lay a half a stroke for Fleetwood in that head-to-head matchup with no extra juice to lay is the equivalent of a free shot with your beer. You don’t need it, but you’ll happily oblige if it’s presented to you!
Harris English (+7000)
Nobody has avoided bogeys better than Harris English. In 34 rounds, he’s made just 59 bogeys in 612 holes played for a 9.64 bogey percentage, tops on the PGA Tour. English is also second in greens in regulation percentage at 77.29%, trying only Jim Furyk at 78.76%. At PGAGolfBets, English leads the field in aggregate Key Performance Statistics, including in strokes gained approach to green, Par 4 Scoring and Bogey Average.
Brian Harman (+9000)
His consistency on tour isn’t on pair with where his odds are coming in. Via FantasyLabs, Harman is 10th in strokes gained: tee-to-green and 17th in strokes gained: around-the-green. Via PGAGolfBets, Harmaan’s combined score of Strokes Gained Approach to the Green (66), Par 4 Scoring (32), and Bogey Average (30) have him ranked 14th amongst their Top 30 plays for the Honda Classic.
Tom Hoge (+10000)
Hoge is a fantastic scrambler, placing fifth on the Tour at 69.01%, trailing the leader Rory McIlroy by just 3%. Part of his success has been due to iron play, which would make sense considering his scrambling ability and according to FantasyNational, the Bermuda grass at PGA National is the only putting surface he ranks positive on.